It is indeed crunch time.
For six Eastern Conference teams, it’s put up or shut up. Those teams – Atlanta, Milwaukee, Indiana, Miami, Chicago and Detroit – are in an intense battle for the final four spots in the conference playoffs.
Suffice to say, there is little margin for error. These six teams are separated by a mere 3½ games with about two weeks to go.
Here’s how those teams stand going into Tuesday night’s action.
5th place — Atlanta (37-36)
6th — Milwaukee (37-36)
7th — Indiana (37-36)
8th — Miami (35-38)
9th — Chicago (35-39)
10th — Detroit (34-40)
Don’t be surprised if that pecking order is rearranged by the end of the regular season on Wednesday April 12. After all, Atlanta is in a free fall, having lost seven straight games. What’s more, the Hawks are expected to be without their star forward Paul Millsap for at least another three games.
Meanwhile, Indiana has six games left against teams with .500-plus records and Chicago easily has a most favorable schedule. The Bulls could potentially go 8-1 the rest of the way as they play only two games against winning teams, one being the reeling Hawks in Chicago.
Here is a look at the number of home and away games for each of the aforementioned playoff hopefuls, along with the number of games they’ll have against teams with winning records:
6 — Atlanta and Milwaukee
5 — Indiana, Miami, Chicago
4 – Detroit
4 – Indiana, Miami, Detroit
3 – Chicago, Milwaukee, Atlanta
GAMES VERSUS .500 OR BETTER TEAMS:
6 – Indiana
5 — Detroit
4 – Milwaukee, Atlanta and Miami
2 – Chicago